Can you remember the first video game you played? I can remember playing on Pokémon Yellow and Spyro the Dragon. They’re my earliest memories. Some of you may remember playing Pac-Man and Space Invaders on the Atari. The 2600 was one of the most popular Atari consoles, so read on to find out more.
Originally named the Atari VCS (Video Computer Systems), the company sold over thirty million consoles alone. It was the third programmable console to ever be produced – it pales in comparison to the amount that is out there now. Not to name a few: XBOX, PlayStation and Nintendo.
The founder of Atari and the creator of Pong was Nolan Bushnell. He sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million. After the sale, Bushnell later went on to buy the Pizza Time Theater restaurant. The Pizza Time Theater later became the popular Chuck E. Cheese diner.
With arcade games becoming incredibly popular in the 70’s, Atari released the game Home Pong (a smaller version of Pong) in 1975 on the American market. However, this was delayed for a year, for legal reasons. Home Pong was played on a cartridge and these were produced for three decades
When the Atari VCS was released in 1977, complete with nine playable games, the console survived the Christmas holiday shopping madness. How? We don’t know, as it was priced at $200. They went onto release three incredibly popular games: Outlaw, Space War and Breakout. By this time, the console had been renamed the Atari 2600 and had 128 bytes of RAM.
Adventure was the first video game to contain an Easter Egg, which are hidden messages and inside jokes. In the case of the Atari, the Easter Egg was that when an object was placed in a certain area of the game, it revealed the programmers name.
For those wondering, the programmer for Adventure was Warren Robinett.
Competition arose in the form of Activision, a software producer who feature in many of today’s video games such as the Skylanders franchise (2011, and still ongoing). Activision had been started by four disheartened Atari programmers. To compete, the Atari released Boxing, Checkers, Dragster and Fishing Derby.
Not long after, Asteroids was produced to try and beat the success that Activision were having. This lead Atari to also produce the new console – the Atari 5200. The 2600 was still cheaper and had good quality games, and still sold as well as the newer version.
The console later became even more popular, with successful games such as E.T. and Pac-Man – games that are still popular nowadays. Atari were producing these games and consoles to battle against the rival companies. The best news they could have was that they were still selling. And fast. Even after the 5200 release, the 2600 sold millions of copies in 1985.
The Atari 2600 was a popular console for fans of video games, but also popular for the producers. They even nicknamed the console “Stella”. “Stella” still can be found and sold – they are still making money decades after its release.
Do you remember playing the Atari? What are your favourite memories of video games? Let us know!